THE BEST GAME IN TOWN
Footy’s not always a laughing matter on Before the Game, Samantha Lane tells Guy Davis.
know how to party, is that this is a team that enjoys each other’s company. And eight years of continued popularity would indicate that the camaraderie is one of the secrets of the show’s success.
“ Whatever energy it has, it’s something that happens organically and spontaneously,” Lane said. “ We obviously like one another, like sitting down together and having a laugh. And we crack gags at the expense of each other at times but I genuinely want to know what Mick Molloy thinks about Richmond – he knows more about that club than me!”
The presence of comic talents such as Molloy, Dave Hughes, Lehmo and former AFL player Ryan Fitzgerald alongside journos such as Lane and Andrew Maher might indicate that Before the Game takes a fairly fun approach to footy.
But Lane is quick to point out that the comedians on the panel bring plenty of insight and, more importantly, plenty of access to the inner workings of the clubs they follow.
“ Everyone on the panel is genuinely a footy fan and they all really think about the game,” she said. “ It’s a connected fan’s opinion – we can all have opinions but we
Despite its contingent of comedians, Before the Game also knows the importance of striking a balance between humour and serious analysis of issues affecting the AFL.
“ A couple of weeks ago, for instance, Travis Tuck’s drug use was the biggest story in footy and we all knew there was a line there that shouldn’t be crossed,” Lane said.
“ Of course, if you asked any of the guys on the panel, they’d tell you I’m always can’t all, as Dave did recently, get access to the Carlton rooms after the game. But that’s the reality of Dave Hughes. These guys get access the average fan would kill for, and they get great info.” flagging things as inappropriate. I’m apparently the moral compass of the show.”
Lane’s also the only woman on the Before the Game panel, and she says her gender brings a “ completely justified” diversity to the line-up. “ Roughly 50 per cent of membership in AFL clubs is female, so arguably there should be another woman or two on the Before the Game panel,” she laughed.
Speaking a couple of weeks before the AFL Grand Final, Lane admitted that she couldn’t confidently predict who’d be facing off on that one day in September, although she was fairly certain St Kilda (“ such a tough and well-skilled unit”) would be one of the teams taking part.
“ No matter which team you barrack for, everyone gets excited about September,” she said. “ We all want to know what Collingwood will do and how the Bulldogs will respond, so if we were trying to fake it on Before the Game we’d be found out pretty quickly.
“ This show wouldn’t have been around so long if it didn’t have a genuine love of footy at the heart of it.”
Finals fever: Lane with her co-hosts, from left, Ryan Fitzgerald, Mick Molloy, Anthony “ Lehmo” Lehmann, Dave Hughes and Andrew Maher.